Monday, April 4, 2011
Meet Former Clash of the Titles Competitor Shawna K. Williams, guest post by Jennifer Slattery
She competed in our most touching Christmas scene. Her wonderfully written excerpt, taken from Orphaned Hearts, brought a sense of nostalgia to our readers.
In Orphaned Hearts, Pastor David Langley understands six-year old Caleb Holsheyer -- what it feels like to be damaged and alone. His family killed in a fire, and his body severely burned, David grew up in an orphanage, ridiculed and shunned. He couldn’t let that be Caleb’s fate.
When adoption plans fall through, David is desperate to find Caleb a new home. But in the midst of the Great Depression, most families are barely getting by. No one seems willing to take on the responsibility of an extra mouth, especially one belonging to a crippled child.
Except for Sadie Miller, the town spinster. In Sadie, David sees the answer to Caleb's needs. But Child Welfare doesn't agree, and demands other arrangements be found, or the boy be returned to the orphanage.
David and Sadie team up, determined to find a home for an orphaned child, but while searching, might they find a family instead.
Shawna, our readers loved your excerpt. Can you tell us more about the book it was taken from? Where did you get the story idea?
Orphaned Heart is my latest release. It's a wonderful little story set in Northwestern Arkansas, during 1932.
The story is about a minister, David Langley, and his search for a home for Caleb, an orphaned child with a missing arm. David is especially concerned with Caleb's situation because David knows that Caleb's disability will affect how people see him. David, who also grew up orphaned, was severely burned in the fire that killed his family. As an adult he is able to hide these scars beneath his clothes, but he always felt that his disfigurement was the reason he was never taken in by a family when he was a child. For these same reasons, he believes he'll never have one of his own as a man. So, in a way, finding a home for Caleb proves there's still hope for him.
Sadie, the town spinster, has been in love with David for years, but she doesn't think he can see past her label. Circumstances bring Caleb into her home on a temporary basis and her love for the boy blossoms, healing his pain and hers. But things become desperate when they learn of danger at the orphanage and that Caleb must soon return. David and Sadie team up, both working to find a permanent, loving home where Caleb will be safe, but while searching they discover a family instead.
The story was inspired by my grandparents. My grandfather grew up in the orphanage I based the one in the story upon. It was hard to find much information about it beyond a former address. Most of what I knew was told to me by my grandparents. My grandmother's father had been hired to work the orphanage's dairy and my grandmother helped him. That's how my grandparents met. Their memories of the orphanage had a profound impact on them and for years they took in foster children because of it.
Where and when do you like to write?
I sit on the sofa and write after everyone has gone to sleep. I'm usually up until 4 a.m. when I'm working on a new project.
What do you enjoy most about being an author?
I really love it when the characters in the story start coming to life for me. When I start a story, there's a lot I don't know about them, and as I write I learn. Most of my revision work is done on the first half of a book, because it's usually not until the second half that I have a firm grasp on my characters' personalities, and then I go back and rewrite to add depth and fix inconsistencies.
I, of course, love being able to share my work. It's the best feeling to hear someone say they were moved by a story I wrote. The best!
How does your faith play into your writing?
More like, how does it not? The moment I decided to write I knew that my stories would be Christian Fiction. It wasn't really a conscience choice though, it's just who I am. I don't think I can write a story without some kind of spiritual message. My thoughts always gravitate toward what God's purpose might be in pretty much everything and I can't turn it off, nor do I want to. When I'm writing I think about my characters, what they'd learn from their experiences in the story and how it would affect them spiritually. I often think about important lessons I've learned in my life, usually the hard way, and try to convey the small measures of wisdom God has granted me through my stories.
Thank you so much for chatting with us today. We enjoyed having you on Clash of the Titles and look forward to reading more of your work in the future.
Visit http://shawnakwilliams.com/ and http://shawnawilliams-oldsmobile.blogspot.com/ to find out more about Shawna and her writing, or connect with her on twitter and facebook: http://twitter.com/#!/shawnakwilliams
Meet Former Clash of the Titles’ Competitor Margaret Brownley, guest post by Jennifer Slattery
Thrills, mystery, suspense, romance: Margaret Brownley’s penned it all. Nothing wrong with that—except she happened to be writing for the church newsletter. After making the church picnic read like a Grisham novel, her former pastor took me aside and said, "Maybe God's calling you to write fiction." So that’s what she did. She now has nearly 25 novels to her credit, including bestselling and RITA finalist A Lady Like Sarah—not bad for someone who flunked 8th grade English. Just don’t ask her to diagram a sentence.
Margaret competed in Clash of the Titles’ Battle of the Blurbs. Her latest novel, A Vision of Lucy is about a girl who seems to find trouble wherever she goes, but with the help of God and the rugged, reclusive David Wolf, she’ll never face adversity alone.
Lucy Fairbanks dreams of working as a photographer at the Rocky Creek newspaper. If she can earn money making photographs, then maybe her father will see that what she does is worthy, more than just a distraction. And her deepest hope is that he’ll see her as an artist, the way he thought of her deceased mother, whose paintings still hung on their walls.
But trouble follows Lucy on every photo shoot: a mess of petticoats and ribbons, an accidental shooting, even a fire.
When Lucy meets David Wolf—a quiet, rustic man who lives on the outskirts of town—she thinks she can catch the attention of the town with his photograph. She doesn’t count on her feelings stirring whenever she’s near him.
Two things happen next that forever change the course of Lucy’s life: David says the words Lucy has longed to hear since her mother died: that she is a compassionate, creative young woman that God made in His image. And in return Lucy helps David change his perspective on an event that wounded him long ago.
God’s arms are around this unlikely couple as they leave behind long-held assumptions and discover the true freedom of forgiveness.
Margaret, that sounds like a great book! Tell us more about it. Where did you get the story idea?
First let me thank you for letting me visit you today. To answer your question, the idea for my current release A Suitor for Jenny came from a meeting notice in an old newspaper for a group called The Society for the Protection and Preservation of Male Independence. I don’t know if the members managed to remain independent in real life but I certainly had fun making sure they didn’t in
A Vision of Lucy (available for preorder) is the third and final book of my Rocky Creek series. I got the idea from an ad in an old newspaper ad (do you see a pattern here?). Julia Shannon of San Francisco took the family portrait to new heights when she shockingly advertised herself as a daguerreotypist and midwife. Lucy’s not a midwife, but after learning that photographs sometimes reveal things not seen by the naked eyes, she takes camera in hand hoping to uncover family secrets.
You have a wonderfully creative imagination. Where and when do you like to write?
I write in my Monet purple office five days a week. Fortunately, I don’t need much sleep. I think I’m what you call hyper. I’m an early riser so you’ll find me parked in front my computer as early as four a.m., coffee in hand—a whole coffee pot. Afternoons are for answering email, exercising, the business of writing and taking care of the necessary details of life. Weekends are for friends, family and dreaming.
Wow, that’s dedicated. What do you enjoy most about being an author?
I love the idea of creating something from absolutely nothing. I can’t knit a sweater without yarn. Nor can I cook a meal without ingredients. I can’t even grow a garden without soil and water. But I can create a book from nothing more than a wisp of an idea and a blank page. I love that!
I also love creating characters and letting them take me to unexpected places.
How does faith play into your writing?
Faith is an essential part of who we are. One of my frustrations in writing for the secular market was not being allowed to explore a character’s faith (or lack of it). I don’t think it’s possible to fully develop a character without including his or her relationship to God.
Thank you so much for chatting with us! We enjoyed having you on Clash of the Titles, and it’s great to keep up with what you’re doing now. I look forward to reading A Vision of Lucy!
Visit http://www.margaretbrownley.com/ to find out more about Margaret and her writing.
We're happy to have C.S. Lakin with us today talking about her book The Map across Time. To learn more about C.S. and her book, read on!
Title: The Map across Time
Publisher: AMG/Living Ink
Cover blurb: The Map across Time is an epic time-travel adventure that tells the story of the kingdom of Sherborne, a land under an ancient curse, and the quest of the teenage twins of the king—Adin and Aletha—who must follow a magical map back in time to Sherbourne’s past in order to discover the cause of the curse and its remedy. A powerful story of loyal love, honor, and faith.
1) How did this story come to you?
I’m not exactly sure! I wanted to write something with a time paradox and as the second book in The Gates of Heaven series, to give more detail as to the sacred sites guarded by the “Keepers.” I also love the Scripture in Song of Songs that tells how love is as strong as death and nothing can quench those flames. I used that as one of the themes of the book.
2) Tell us about the journey to getting this book published.
I had already completed the first three fairy tales in the collection and pitched the series to AMG at a writers’ conference. A year later I was told it was submitted to editorial committee and approved. The series will have at least seven books in it. I’m beginning book five, and The Land of Darkness, book three, will be out this fall.
3) Tell me three things about yourself that would surprise your readers.
I’m not exactly sure what would surprise readers about me. I used to have a commercial pygmy goat farm and have delivered a hundred+ baby goats. They are my favorite animal although I don’t have a space for goats these days. I ran a bed and breakfast for fifteen years and got pretty good at preparing five-course gourmet breakfasts (although I rarely eat breakfast myself!). And I’d rather be backpacking and up atop a mountain away from civilization than being down here in the city.
4) What are you working on now and what's next for you?
Wow, working on a million things! I’m polishing up my two conference workshops I’ll be teaching this year, rewriting Time Sniffers to be a more romantic YA sci-fi (I have a publisher wanting this series). I plan to start writing book five in my fantasy series this summer, and I have six unpublished novels I’m trying to sell through my agents and other outlets.
5) Parting comments?
Writing is a double-edged sword. It’s a great joy for me, what makes my heart soar, but the hard work of getting published and marketing books is very difficult and intimidating. It’s not for the weak of heart, but if you love to write, persevere. That is the key word.
6) Where can fans find you on the internet?
My main website is http://www.cslakin.com/ and my fantasy series site is http://www.gatesofheavenseries.com/